The Nordic Council Film Prize 2023 goes to the Danish film 'Empire', which with absurdist comedy and drama tells the story of a dark and underexposed chapter in the Danish colonial and slave past in the Danish West Indies in 1848.
The award goes to director Frederikke Aspöck, screenwriter Anna Neye and producers Pernille Munk Skydsgaard, Nina Leidersdorff and Meta Louise Foldager Sørensen who produced for Meta Film. The prize was announced on Tuesday evening, October 31st during the Nordic Council prize ceremony at the Norwegian Opera in Oslo and presented to the winners by Norwegian actress Maria Bonnevie.
'Empire' had its world premiere at Göteborg Film Festival 2023 and its Danish cinema release later that year. The film was selected from six Nordic candidates by a jury consisting of one member from each of the Nordic countries. The jury's reasoning for choosing 'Empire' as this year's recipient of the Film Prize was as follows:
It’s a rare thing to come across a film that’s so confidently and thoroughly thought through in every single detail. The director Frederikke Aspöck does not stumble. Empire takes a new and fresh stance on racism and power plays. Centred around Denmark’s colonial times at the West Indies back in 1848 at St. Croix. it is brave, bold, and ambitious of the filmmakers to pursue this serious and traumatising story in such personal, playful and, at some points, even humoristic and surprisingly beautiful ways. They look back at history and it doesn’t look good. Empire is a story about a very specific part of Denmark’s past, and it is both deeply relatable to our current dilemmas and to a global audience."
The Nordic Council Film Prize comes with a prize of 40.000 euro, shared between the director, the screenwriter and the producers. This reflects and emphasizes that film as an artistic expression is the result of close collaboration between these three main functions.
The Nordic Council Film Prize has been awarded since 2002 and is one of the most prestigious film prizes in Northern Europe. It has previously been awarded to films such as 'The Hunt' (2013), 'Play' (2012) and 'Antichrist' (2009). This is the eighth time a Danish film has received the award, most recently with 'Flee' in 2021.